Laudato Si 55: Contrary Behaviors

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

55. Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive.

I recall this paragraph attracting attention. A few commentators mocked Pope Francis for “criticizing” air conditioning and flying on planes.

This section mentions “the increasing use and power” of cooling our buildings. Not the use, period. We’ve all experienced summer buildings “too cold” for summer wear. We can power a greenhouse and literally turn it into a refrigerator. But should we? If the temperature outside is 100F, we can cool a building to a comfortable 75, or 80.

The question here involves thoughtfulness: where should a home or business set its thermostat? The range of temperatures I’ve experienced outside is,  on the Fahrenheit scale, zero to a hundred. To what range am I entitled to live in my house? 70 to 72? 65 to 75? 60 to 80? What would a power company market as the optimal level of “comfort”?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Laudato Si 55: Contrary Behaviors

  1. Devin says:

    I live in an apartment building made out of stone, so no matter what time of year or thermostat setting, it is always around 75 degrees. A little warmer than my tastes but the energy use per person in the building, it is amazing. The last few years, I lived a house where the temperature we ranges from 80º in the summer to 60º in the winter.

    Since the Holy Father is not attempting as being as systematic as his predecessors, we can forgive his omission that winter heat in many areas expends more energy than cooling in the summer. Energy wise, better to live south of the Mason-Dixon line and cool your house to 68, than to live in the Northeast and warm it to 68 in the winter.

    But the Pacific Northwest, has the best of both worlds. So enjoy.

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